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Globalisation, Poverty and Food security:
Towards the new millenium

(The following is an excerpt from an unpublished paper presented by the author at the 1998 Conference of Indian Association of Women’s Studies, Pune. We are grateful to the author for her kind permission to use this in South Asia Documents. SAD team would also like to acknowledge Women’s Equality, the quarterly bulletin of All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), where this excerpt has recently been carried.)

The present period is one of retrospection, as we take stock of the achievements and failures of a half- century of developmental efforts in an India independent of colonial rule. In the last decade, under the pressure of international developments and the Bretton-Woods institutions' hegemonic neon liberal vision for indebted countries, there has been a decisive shift in the policies followed in India towards greater opening to global markets and capital flows, and this is having profound effects on our economy and society. As we move inexorably towards the new millennium, the question inevitably arises—when will we succeed in finally doing away with the stigma of being the one country in the world, with the largest numbers of absolutely poor people, the largest number of illiterate people, the largest number of malnourished children, the largest number of maternal deaths in parturition, the largest number of child worker, the list is seemingly endless. All these statistics, a half-century ago, were applicable to China, not to India; but socialist China by 1978 (the end of the Maoist Periods or in three decades after its formation had already done immeasurably better than has India by 1998, five decades after Independence, in the spheres of health, education and poverty reduction. It is necessary to identify the salient failures in our development effort and their cause in order to see the way forward. This is all the more important in an area when fuller participation in the world economy via external trade liberalisation and internal structural adjustment programmer is being put forward as the panacea to all problems—an agenda which sounds hollow even to some of its advocates after South- East Asia's travails, admittedly, but an agenda that is still being pushed strongly by the Bretton Woods institutions.

In this paper we discuss in what ways in the era of greater integration into world trade and investment flows ('globalisation'), trade liberalization accompanied by 'structural adjustment' actually raised poverty (and even the all-India crude death rate in one year of maximum adjustment) in the first half of the nineties


Improved Food security and some Poverty reduction in the Eighties

We have elsewhere characterised the period 1950-1990 as broadly one of food first policies in the sphere of agriculture, which has been jettisoned for an exports first set of policies in the current decade of the nineties as India went in for trade liberalisation and structural adjustment. The main planks of the latter as it affects agriculture and food security has been the rapid freeing of both exports and imports of agricultural commodities. Trade in agricultural products were brought within the purview of the GATT negotiations for the first time in the prolonged Uruguay Round of negotiations, which via the Dunkel draft brought in provisions for ensuring market access for the North's agricultural products and changes in the patent laws relating to products of plant and animal origin. As a signatory to the GATT 1994, India committed itself to doing away with quantitative restrictions on agricultural trade and to amending its patent laws. We will look at the impact of this liberalisation briefly in the next section, at present noting that these measures are a complete reversal of the earlier emphasis on food security, which may have been flawed with regard to the concept of food security itself, but nevertheless represented some awareness of the dangers of relying excessively on the international market.

From a situation when it was a large foodgrains importer in the sixties, India had attained national self-sufficiency in food production from the second half of the seventies onwards when imports dropped to negligible levels and some periods even saw a small export. Availability refers to the sum of domestic output plus net imports plus change in stock; while up to the mid-70s rising per head availability could only be ensured by quite large food imports, as the green revolution fructified domestic output proved sufficient. But the green revolution placed unbalanced emphasis on the cereals at the expense of the pulses; while annual cereals availability per head rose by 34 kg. between the 50s and the 90s, we find that precisely the period of green revolution, namely the two decades beginning in the 60s, saw a sharp drop in per head pulses availability from 22 kg. to 14 kg.; even though efforts have been made to stem the rot and the rate of decline has certainly slowed down, at present every Indian has only half the level of pulses available as in the early 1950s--only 12 kg. compared to 24 kg. then. Pulses have been traditionally the main source of protein for the poor who cannot afford animal protein sources like milk in adequate amounts; the average mass diet has thus worsened considerably in terms of nutritional balance even as its calorific value has risen. The average Indian has still not recovered the consumption level she had at the end of the first World War owing to the large food availability decline by nearly 30% which had taken place in British India until Independence.

However food self-sufficiency is always defined in terms of satisfaction of internal market demand, not in terms of satisfaction of people's basic needs; and this is where the question of purchasing power and access to basic food needs in the sense of ability to purchase, become very important in a poor country. It is quite possible for output per head to rise but if the distribution of the output worsens, we may end up with the same or even higher levels of poverty. This is precisely what happened; despite the steady rise in the per head grain output, the share of the total population which was below the poverty line, did not fall in any true sense until the 1980s. The distribution of the increased average supplies, was not towards those who were the most poor and deprived but towards the upper groups of consumers, who became better off and ate more grain-intensive animal products even while the poor population remained as numerous—increasing in absolute terms and maintaining the same high share of the population, over two fifths, during more than 30 years after 1950. Urban poverty is very largely the outcome of the migration of rural destitutes to city slums in search of a livelihood. The ability to reduce hard-core urban poverty which in isolation from other factors could be relatively easy to do, is constantly undermined by the new waves of migration undercutting urban wages and replenishing the pool of unorganised surplus labour for small scale industry and the service sector. The key to reducing urban poverty thus lies in the provision of employment and food security in rural

This outcome of increase in concentration of incomes was the logical accompaniment of strategy of change followed in the rural areas in particular—which entailed little effective land reform and relied on the well-to-do farmers and the landlords in already irrigated areas to deliver output growth. Between the early 60s and the mid-70s, the real earnings of rural labour fell drastically and the rapid food price inflation of the period also hit hard all net purchasers of foodgrains—the small farmers, urban, unorganised labour, petty artisans, small cash crop producers and so on. It was owing to the widespread unrest following food price inflation, and the price-rise resistance movement, that political Emergency was imposed in mid-1975. We may identify this as the beginning of the erosion of the political hegemony of the Congress party, starting in the Southern states.

From this period onwards state intervention in the foodgrains economy rose considerably, for the inflation-sensitivity of the population, its vocal urban lower income segment in particular, had been demonstrated in no uncertain terms. By the mid- eighties the FCI and state agencies were procuring at least one-eighth of the gross grain output, in some years up to one-sixth; as a share of total market supplies this was very substantial, ranging from one-third to four-fifths. It was only in the 80s that rural poverty fell to below 40% of the population for the first time since Independence and continued to fall until it reached the lowest level estimated so far, 34% in 1989-90.

What happened during the eighties, to improve food security somewhat for the poor and initiate a decline in poverty? We will discuss this question at some length because it will help to explain how and why the new policies of cutting development outlays and cutting social subsidies in the nineties as part of the structural adjustment policies (SAP), necessarily results in rise in mass poverty As a result of a very detailed analysis of the reasons behind the fall in poverty during the 80s and rise in poverty during the early nineties, we find the following main factors at work:

First and most important, the extension of the Public Distribution System (PDS) of foodgrains and other necessities to the rural areas on quite a significant scale took place from the end-70s onwards. This was linked to the assumption of power in a number of states, of non-Congress popular governments which seemed at least during that period to be rather more responsive to mass demands. Until the early 80s it was the three Left-dominated states: West Bengal, Tripura and Kerala, along with the sensitive border states Jammu and Kashmir, and the Union Territory of Delhi, where at least a third or more of grain needs per head of population, were being met from the PDS whereas in other states with much higher poverty incidence, such as Bihar and Orissa, a very small fraction of needs were being met by the PDS

However this picture of good PDS functioning being confined almost entirely to the Left bastions changed in the course of the 80s: both the NTR government in Andhra Pradesh and the non Congress Tamilnadu governments placed a high priority on providing additional subsidy out of state funds over and above the Central food subsidy to keep the final price of basic grains affordable for the poor. Andhra Pradesh operated highly popular Rs2 per kg. rice scheme, Tamil Nadu started a scheme of meals for schoolchildren as Kerala had already done much earlier, and registered improvement in school enrolment rates. The Janata government in Karnataka too extended the PDS.

All this would not have worked well in isolation if many of these states had not also tried at the same time to revive democratic decentralization such as the system of village self-government in a new form through regular elections for village panchayats. West Bengal had done this already with some success, because registration of the Sharecroppers in 1978 followed by campaigns to restrict rent to legal levels, had laid the basis for a considerable weakening of the hold of the jotedar and money lender on rural society, allowing the panchayats to become more representative than they would have been otherwise. Andhra Pradesh introduced the mandala system and Karnataka revived panchayats while Kerala which was already far ahead of other states on many social indicators, launched a drive for complete literacy and recently initiated comprehensive planning from below. All measures which increase democratic participation would also raise the effectiveness and reach of a public distribution system.

The common criticism of the PDS regarding its urban bias is thus no longer as valid as it was earlier. Since 1971 the number of fair price shops distributing PDS supplies has more than tripled to 4 lakh, the bulk of the addition being in rural areas, and domestic food procurement tonnage has more than trebled as well. Although the share of food subsidy in GDP rose little from 0.4 to 0.6 percent, more of the subsidy went to rural areas in recent years.

The most important determinant of decline in poverty everywhere in India from the late seventies to 1987, and the continuing decline in certain states even during 1987 to 1993 when all-India poverty was rising, was the ability of those states to hold down the prices of basic foodgrains in an extended PDS even when the Prices of other goods were rising. It might be asked, how an individual state can influence food price when the Central government fixes the issue price of foodgrains on a uniform basis for all states. This issue price is already the outcome of applying a central food subsidy, which covers the cost of transport, handling and storage. The main procuring areas being in North India these costs would otherwise raise price excessively in the other states. The state-level issue price is usually higher than the central issue price owing to local costs of movement, handling and storage which also have to be covered.

Despite a uniform central issue price however, there is a lot of variation among states regarding the price at which grains were actually supplied locally. This difference arose from the fact of an additional subsidy being provided out of the state budget by those states which had some sensitivity to popular demands. Owing to the extra subsidy, some states restricted the local issue price to within 10-11% higher only than the central price, (Kerala Karnataka and West Bengal) while others gave even larger additional subsidy and lowered the local issue price to notably below the central price (Andhra Pradesh and Tamilnadu) or slightly below it (Rajasthan). The maximum decline in the rural poverty percentage during 1977 to l 993, took place precisely in the four South Indian states and in West Bengal, and the most important reason for this was their holding the food price line when it was rising everywhere else in India.

The data on poverty decline show that over the entire 16 year period, 1977 to 1993, the rural poverty percentage fell to the maximum extent in the whole of India, in Andhra Pradesh (58%) followed closely by Kerala (56%) then Tamilnadu, Karnataka and West Bengal, all with over 40% decline in the poverty ratio. By contrast the poorest performance in lowering the poverty ratio was registered by Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Assam viz. the entire Gangetic Plains region of upper India excluding only West Bengal, and extending upto Assam. This region accounts for the bulk of the country's population. While Haryana had low poverty levels to begin with, the situation in the other states is serious because they had initial poverty levels which were quite high. As a result the regional concentration of poverty in India is shifting away from South India and getting concentrated more in Central and Northern India.

Andhra provided the cheapest foodgrains through its three-tier pricing system—the regular PDS price which was about a quarter higher than the central issue price to cover local costs of handling, a price 35% lower than the central issue price to white card holders and a price as much as 51% lower to the poor and to educational institutions. The Andhra pricing system of universal access but differential prices, deserves to be closely studied; unfortunately it is already in the process of being dismantled under the pernicious state-level structural adjustment programme sought to be currently implemented there with the advice of economists from the Harvard Development Institute, and if this is done fully, we may expect to see a resurgence of poverty in that state. Tamilnadu has been supplying all categories of ration card holders with rice at a third lower price than the CIP while Delhi and Rajasthan are between 8 and 12 per cent lower. Kerala, Karnataka and West Bengal have limited the rise over the CIP to 10% or so, below Rs. 6 per Kg.

The second important factor behind poverty reduction in the eighties was the considerable growth in spending by Central and state governments (though unevenly) on rural development and related areas like power and infrastructure. Some of it was planned but most of it was an upward deviation of the actual spending from budgeted spending, which accelerated with the 1987 drought. Actual rural development and related expenditures were 13 percent of the nation's income every year during 1985-90 compared to the planned 7.8 percent only. While Maharashtra had operated an employment guarantee scheme for many years, now other drought-prone and backward areas also saw increased spending. Whatever the leakages and the corruption, these schemes did generate non-farm employment and incomes on a big scale which through their multiplier effects influenced the entire rural economy. For the first time there was a definite fall in the share of agricultural work and rise in the share of non-farm work among the rural households and since the latter was more paying, real wages and earnings of rural labour rose, which helped poverty to fall. Economists were excited about the work-force diversification, seeing it as the beginning of rural India pulling itself out of the morass of low-productivity farm labour. In the nineties however this brief positive spurt was to be completely reversed with SAP.


Adverse effects of Liberalisation and SAP on Food security

All the positive trends regarding food security and poverty reduction came to an end with the IMF extended financing facility loan of $4 8 billion in 1991 and the commitment to liberalise and implement SAP. Advised by the Fund-Bank, the minority Central government slashed development expenditures to contain the budget deficit and made it more difficult for state governments to borrow. At the all-India level poverty rose sharply by 1992 according to all estimates (to 44% in villages, a level not seen for a decade) and the all- India crude death rate rose in 1992. Poverty rose firstly, because non-farm jobs were at once badly affected, unemployment rose, and earnings fell.

Some states however defied the advice and minimised the cuts, like Kerala and Tamilnadu while others actually continued to raise expenditures like Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan. Poverty continued to decline during the reform period in all the South Indian states, because they deviated from SAP requirements. The worst affected by decline in development expenditures under SAP were clearly Bihar, Orissa, Punjab and West Bengal. Poverty rose an all these latter states except in West Bengal; how rural poverty did not rise but indeed continued to fall though more slowly in West Bengal despite drastic squeeze on spending, deserves investigation. Was it perhaps a case of better use of the reduced funds in employment generating projects because the panchayat system was strong?

Against this background of falling non-farm jobs the cropping pattern shifts taking place with export liberalisation which we discuss briefly below become all the more worrying as the net impact may t be to reduce employment even more by diverting land away from more labour-intensive crops like rice to prawn fisheries or from crops to horticulture. The risk factor for farmers has also increased greatly with the new export orientation, since international prices are notoriously volatile, and with a short-term global price rise, unsustainable expansion of a cash crop output, glut and price crash often takes place, aided and abetted by export agents. Between 1990 and 1995 the area under the foodgrains fell by nearly 5 million hectares and that under raw cotton, soyabean and other oilseeds increased in total to almost the same extent.

The fastest growing individual crop was raw cotton which had seen a violent export thrust during 1990 onwards. This exports jumped from an average of 35,00 t. during the four years before 1990-91 to more than ten times higher at 374,000 t. in that year, and maintained a high average of 2 lakh t. in the next three years. Owing to the sudden jump in exports there was a domestic raw cotton famine, open market yarn price trebled and lakhs of handloom and powerloom weavers were badly hit. The Unregulated raw cotton export thrust led to decline of industry as large numbers of powerlooms closed down. Despite this the Commerce Ministry gave the go ahead to more exports in early 1997, resulting in further rise in raw cotton price and the closure of an even larger number of powerloom enterprises. Higher domestic raw material price reduced The competitiveness of our textile industry and exports of the raw material, cheap by world standards, pleased India's textile competitors Not only raw cotton, but wheat and rice too was exported on a large scale by government itself during 1995 and 1996 as stocks piled up in FCI godowns and more people went hungry. The deeds of the colonial exploitations of East India Company are sought to be replicated by our own government as it caves in to the neo-imperialist agenda of economic recolonization of third world countries. Every demand of the Bretton Woods institutions is a demand for economic recolonization, and every concession is an erosion of sovereignty.

Suicides by Farmers: Did the raw cotton export boom benefit farmers growing the crop? The recent spate of suicides by cotton farmers in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and elsewhere provides the answer. The risk of producing a commercial crop is borne entirely by the grower, and the risk is greatly increased when the cash crop is grown on contract for export, according to the seed and fertiliser- pesticide regime prescribed by the purchaser. The majority of cotton farmers are small farmers am most take land partly or wholly on lease. The Indian farmer is highly price-responsive and has been since colonial times. As the world cotton price improved and exports grew, hoping to improve their economic position many lakhs of such farmers rapidly expanded the area sown to cotton, taking large cash advances from traders and commission agents and and bank loans from banks to meet the extra seed and input costs, on vast tracts rain-fed land in Andhra, Karnataka and Maharashtra. Both dealers in uncertified seeds and in sub-standard pesticides have afield day under such boom conditions of rapid area expansion with no state supervision as everything is left to the allegedly efficient market.

The cotton crop is susceptible to a large variety of pests and the unholy trinity of commission agent, moneylender, pesticide dealer and seed-supplier all had a role to play in the debacle, as farmers purchased Uncertified seed, spent huge sums of money applying sub-standard pesticides to their pest-affected crop but could not save an iota of it. Had they grown their old drought and pest resistant local jowar and ragi they would have had something to eat: with reliance on cotton, they neither had anything to eat nor any prospect of clearing the large, unviable debts already incurred. Many were driven to the extreme step of ending their lives, leaving their families to face a harsh neo liberal world. Of course, suicides have not been confined to cotton growers but have also occurred among growers of for dal and chillies in northern Karnataka, producing for the domestic market. The point is that the small and middle farmers are highly vulnerable to risk, which exists for domestically consumed cash crops too, but which are Increased greatly for an export crop. The grower cam do nothing about the volatile global price of the export crop and neither can the national state. The current plight of rubber growers in Kerala facing crashing world price for rubber is again a case in point.

There is every reason to think that India is falling into the same primary export trap as the sub-Saharan African countries and the Latin American countries have already done. The trap consists in exporting more and more physical volumes of products at falling unit dollar price so that the country has to run harder and harder to stay in the same place with regard to export earnings. Thus during the period from 1985 to 1993 the developing countries export volumes grew at 9% annually but their share in world export earnings fell and the purchasing power of exports growth almost halved. At the same time in order to export more, scarce land is diverted from food crops.

As cash crops claim more area at the expense of grains, yield has not risen enough to compensate for area decline and the compound growth rate of foodgrains output has dropped to only 1.7% below the population growth rate, during the period 1990-1 to 1995-6 for the first time in three decades. The decline of rice, coarse grams and of pulses has been especially sharp. In 1996-97 there was a large jump in total grain output to 198 million t., but step-function behavior in agriculture is common, and the output in 1997-98 has fallen below this peak to 195 m.t. owing to continuing fall in coarse grains and pulses.

Making foodgrains at reasonable rates available through a public distribution system does not in itself address the problem of raising the real incomes of those in poverty, particularly those in medium-deep to deep poverty. The complexity of the question may be judged from the fact, for example, that Kalahandi, which has become notorious for starvation deaths among its tribals, has had for the last 30 years, a considerably higher level of per head paddy production than not only the Orissa average, but even the all-India average. The tribal population produces more than enough for its food needs; but it cannot keep even its bare subsistence requirements because most producers are part or pure tenants who have to pay exorbitant rent to their landlords and they are in debt to the commission agents and traders (the latter are all Marwaris). Most of their output is taken away via exorbitant rents and interest and moves as commoditised grain across the borders to neighbouring states, leaving no cash in their hands to buy food even if it were available in fair-price shops. We are back again at the basic requirements of reform in land relations, without which the necessary conditions for food security cannot be established for those enmeshed in rent and interest burdens. Even with a rural PDS of adequate reach the inhabitants of an area like Kalahandi might not be able to satisfy the minimum needs through purchase.

The profile of poverty from all-India data for 1987-88 shows that poverty is a phenomenon concentrated among rural labour, scheduled castes and tribes, and female headed households. These are not mutually exclusive categories but are overlapping. Thus although 35% of all rural households were dependent on labour, they made up 46% of all rural poor since three-fifths of the group was in poverty. Scheduled castes and tribes were 29% of households and 37% of all poor. Nearly half of all rural female-headed households were poor.

Raising real incomes through productive employment becomes important for those for whom farming on their own pieces of land or related activities, do not bring in enough incomes. Here, too, the eighties had marked a break with earlier trends by way of greatly increased state expenditures on rural development activities under various heads, which despite its inadequacy did bring some relief and helped reduce poverty.

The effects on food prices of the new policies under SAP were felt immediately after the minority Congress government assumed power in mid 1991, for it raised the issue price of foodgrains from the fair price shops to consumers, to a greater extent than it raised the procurement price paid to farmers, in order to cut the food subsidy. It kept raising issue prices steeply until 1994, so that wheat and rice price was 85% higher compared to 1990. The steep food price rise however boomeranged on the government because, not able to buy from the ration shops, a large segment of consumers were priced out of the mis-named fair-price shops and they moved into poverty; the number of poor people rose by at least 30 million. The off-take dropped by 9 million tonnes between 1990 and 1995 and stocks built up even faster because procurement remained good. The cost of holding larger and larger stocks of grain meant that the subsidy was not going to the consumer but mainly to the FCI for stock-holding: from nearly 90% the consumer subsidy was down to 60% of the total by 1995. This was a case of the greatest bungling ever seen in the history of the PDS, and a direct result of the Fund-Bank pressure in cut subsidies. The storehouses were bursting with grain and at least 80 m. more people had been pushed from regular poverty even deeper into nutritional poverty.

Cutting subsidies on food, health and education which benefit the masses is part of the neo liberal theology, and goes hand in hand with their advocacy of giving more spending money to the already well-to-do by way of lower taxes on them and making the latest consumer durables available to them. Shifting incomes, however unequal they already might be, even more towards the well-to-do is part of the largely successful political strategy of the Bretton Woods institutions for winning the support of local elites in third world countries for austerity measures, viz. policies of reducing state development spending and cutting social expenditures. Their policies may be summed up as austerity for the poor, and more spending money for the well-to-do. The economic rationale is very clear: more incomes in the hands of the top 10% or so constituting the elite of the given population means a larger market for the white goods, automobiles, cellular phones, processed foods etc. which Northern countries would like to sell, whether by exporting them to the third world country or by setting up units within the country for the local market. India on account of the large absolute size of its so-called middle class is an attractive market and moreover most of the Indian elite has an ape-like propensity to imitate, in this case Northern consumption patterns, and is thought to be amenable to the strident advertising campaigns which we have seen in recent years. Policies which increase the share of incomes going to the top 10% of the population and expand this market are thus pushed under the guise of other arguments derived from supply-side economics (for example because it would allegedly raise the savings rate in the economy).

Mass income growth being reduced however is desirable from the Northern countries' point of view because they would like to see a larger share of India's highly bio-diverse land resources, being devoted to the non-foodgrain crops they cannot for climatic reasons produce in their own countries at all, or not in sufficient amounts and which they wish to import. If mass rural incomes rose faster, so would India's domestic demand for basic foodgrains. We had earlier estimated that with as egalitarian an income distribution and the same level of per head food consumption as China had in 1985, India would have needed at least 250 million tonnes of foodgrains to satisfy internal demand compared to the 150 million tonnes, actually produced with which she had become self-sufficient. With higher rural incomes and purchasing power, more land and resources would automatically be devoted to the foodgrains owing to the market mechanism itself.

But this is not a desirable outcome for the Northern countries’ agenda: they pressure for policies to remove all barriers to export and import from third world agriculture, for a complete opening up in the same way that India was a completely open economy in the colonial period. Complete openness means allowing the powerful magnet of international demand with its own particular commodity structure, to restructure the way Indian farmers utilise their land in terms of cropping, to meet the requirements of advanced countries which by now concentrate 83% of global purchasing power. This has historically taken place by lowering basic foodgrains absorption of the masses of third world populations. The same mechanism of lowering mass staple grain consumption can be seen today in the countries at Sub-Saharan Africa and many countries in Latin America, as they follow an exports-first policy. Sub- Saharan Africa has had one of the fastest growth rates of agricultural exports in the last fifteen years, and has succeeded thereby in lowering per head food production by over one-sixth. The countries worst affected in SSA are perpetually on the verge of mass famine and episodes of drought mean food aid, enmeshing the region even deeper into conditions of greater export thrust and of allowing even freer flow of international capital. Yet the gross facts are ignored by the Northern experts on Africa; the preferred solution of the international aid and health organizations is to control their population growth alone while continuing to exploit the vast natural resources of the region for maintaining high Northern consumption levels. A similar emphasis on population control lies at the heart of the neo-liberal health agenda for countries like India.

We believe that people who analyse the problems of food security and of famine while taking an ambiguous or approving position on economic liberalization, are intellectually profoundly opportunist; the same goes for all those who are strident on the subject of gender discrimination and women's empowerment, but are remarkably silent on the question of economic liberalization even as it affects adversely the position of the mass of women as part of the general mass of the people. No matter how transparent the agenda of economic recolonization that global capital has, there are many who would never explicitly recognise it because they do not wish to be seen to be critical of neo-imperialism, for they do not wish to forego the personal benefits accruing to them from their connections with the organisations of international finance capital or the world centres of neo-liberal theory. This may be mediated through sophistry in argument, but the basic self-serving motivations remain clear enough. Democratic movements of women no less than those of other historically disadvantaged social groups have to fight opportunism among their leaders and intellectuals along with the main fight.